In What Circumstances Would a Father Get Custody

Full custody is a lot of work. the custodial parent must be emotionally and physically capable of providing for the child’s best interest to gain custody of any type.

Do you truly love being around children ALL THE TIME? 

Do they stress or bore you after a while? 

Because this is going to require an enormous commitment on your part that will take over everything in life if successful – even more so than parenting half the time does now.

Some of the obvious reasons a father receives custody are:

Mother passed away.

Whether you are with the mother when this happens, or seperated, a sudden death can thrust a family into a whirlwind of emotional, financial and logistical challenges.

As the sole surviving parent, you will need to get custody in order to establish you as the one and only decision maker in the child’s lives now. 

It may seem harsh, but this needs to be taken care of right away.

Scammers and schemers do not hesitate to prey on the vulnerable, in their time of mourning. 

This can include tax credit fraud, social security benefits being stolen, life insurance claims and many others.

Mother becomes sick or disabled.

Again, whether you are together or not, when something like this happens, it is imperative to be prepared. 

Does she have a will and power of attorney designation in place, as well as custody directives for the children, that don’t include you?

If she is in a coma, you need to be able to make decisions about the children, without the school or doctor questioning your authority.

Do not wait until the last minute to take care of this.

Mother is mentally or physically unable to care for the children.

You may have been given temporary custody due to her illness, but if she is not getting any better, you need to work on gaining full permanent legal custody.  

In some cases, the courts will award you custody without a fight if they see that she is not capable of caring for them properly at this time.

Mother didn’t plan to keep the child after birth.

If this happens, the first thing to do is establish legal parentage with the child, in some states, referred to as acknowledgement of paternity. 

You want the state and county to recognize you as the parent, even if she has not.

This is especially important if she decides to put them up for adoption without your knowledge or consent. 

If you are not on the birth certificate and have no custody rights, it will be relatively simple for her to adopt your children.

Also keep in mind, it is at this time, many times, the grandparents will step in and attempt to take custody. In most cases, fathers get custody by default.

In this case, it is very important that she does not challenge your authority later on when the children are older.

Some of the not-so-obvious reasons a father will get custody would be:

If the mother develops a drug habit or addiction including alcohol.

If this happens and she cannot keep custody of them because of her addiction or mental health issues, you should not hesitate in taking over full custody of the children. 

She has been neglectful or abusive to her own health and well-being as a result of drug use, mental illness or other issues.

In some cases, fathers may be awarded full custody even if there is no addiction involved with a mother, if she is still exposing them to a new boyfriend with addiction problems or living a lifestyle that is not healthy.

If the mother is in jail,  prison, or becomes incarcerated for an extended period.

If something like this happens, fathers also have the same rights as mothers to keep custody of their children.

Sometimes fathers are not awarded custody if they were abusive or neglectful themselves, but in some cases where there is no known history of abuse and/or addiction, fathers can sometimes get full legal custody by default when a mother becomes incarcerated.

This will be on a case-by-case basis again, with many factors taken into account such as her release date from prison or jail; 

whether she has a family that would be willing to take care of the kids for you while she is away; etc…

If the mother becomes homeless and unable to take care of herself let alone children.

Sometimes fathers are more likely to get full legal custody in this situation instead of temporary custody, if they can show they have a job and housing already established for him and the children, and his income exceeds poverty guidelines set by welfare services.

Otherwise, if mom says she will be back on her feet quickly, and is receiving help from friends and family, the court will generally award temporary custody to dad to start.

If the mother misses too many of her visitation rights,  it is likely fathers will be able to get full legal custody.

In this case , the court may not allow mom to have any more visitation until she has proven that she can keep up with them next time around.

If the mother becomes violent and physically abusive.

This is a sad fact of life, but some mothers are abusers.

If this is the case with your ex, you need to take custody as soon as possible for your own safety and that of your child(ren). 

If fathers can prove that the mother has been physically abusive to them, this may also help in getting custody.

It is important if you are dealing with an ex who is violent and/or dangerous, not to ever leave your children alone with her even for a second; do not hesitate in calling the authorities or family members for help.

The courts will be on your side since children should not have to live in an abusive situation.

If the father can provide a better life than mom currently does (job/home).

The court will always side with the parent that provides a higher level of stability, safety and better environment for the children to grow and thrive in.

If fathers can provide a more stable home life with daily and weekly routines, better employment opportunities, and no relationship drama with new partners.

They may also be able to get full legal custody if she is not working or has spotty income that comes and goes each month.


When fathers are awarded custody, the best thing they can do is to make sure their children have a happy childhood.

They should be involved in all daily activities and routines of life for them; helping with homework, playing outside together as much as possible, attending school functions/ parent meetings, etc…

If fathers want full legal custody or shared joint parenting rights, then fathers need to show that they are fully engaged parents who are willing to do what it takes for their child(ren).

The courts will always side with someone who is showing up every day not just on scheduled visits.